IN ESCROW! 2 Avenida Cristal, San Clemente 92673

2 Avenida Cristal

Representing the buyers of this gorgeous home!

Come for the location and stay for the view! A sweeping vista of the Talega golf course and the hills beyond with cool ocean breezes blowing in from the coast only a few miles away. After an early dinner in Old Town San Clemente make your way back in 10 minutes to your 3BR, 2BA single-story residence that sits at the end of a cul de sac and relax on the largest patio in the terrific Carmel community, enjoying enchanting sunsets by the fire pit, listening to the waterfall and perhaps contemplating hosting a barbecue for friends and neighbors. When it’s time to sleep, your master bedroom faces the back, open the window and invite the gentle breezes in as you sleep in bliss. There is central AC (you’ll rarely need it) and if you find yourself cold in January, central heating and a gas fireplace in the living room. The master bedroom sports not only dual sinks but dual shower heads as well! …use your imagination! There is a large walk in closet for all your favorite clothes. There are new Moen fixtures in both bathrooms and the kitchen has GE’s high-end Monogram appliances and a Viking 6 burner stovetop, so you better be cooking. Ceramic tile floors run throughout with the exception of the carpeted master bedroom. If not your style, we can help you on that with some credit to redesign. A short distance away is Talega Village Center, where you can shop for groceries or enjoy a dinner out. So, are you creative, artistic, athletic and ready to relax?

Looking for a home similar or curious about your home value? Give me a call!

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IN ESCROW! 4013 Calle Isabella, San Clemente

4013 Calle Isabella, San Clemente, CA 92672

Congrats to my sellers of this beautiful 4 bedroom and 3 bathroom house in the exclusive Cyprus Shore community! This wonderful home has a cathedral ceiling entrance with two fireplaces. All the bedrooms are large in size. One bedroom is currently used as an office. There is a private backyard with built-in BBQ and custom built-in outdoor fireplace. Minutes to walk to the beach, pools, and tennis courts … you will feel like you are always on vacation!

Want to see how I can get these same results for you? Give me a call now!

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7 Home Upgrades That Will Attract First-Time Homebuyers

7 Home Upgrades That Will Attract First-Time Homebuyers

There’s a common misconception about millennials being uninterested in, or simply unprepared for, homeownership. The statistics simply don’t bear this out: A realtor.com analysis published in early 2019 found millennials accounted for more than 40% of all new home loans.

The implication for home sellers is clear – there’s a decent chance that some of the house hunters who show up to your property are going to be in the millennial age range, so it can really pay off to know your prospective buyer demographic and home upgrades that will definitely catch their attention.

Specifically, there are some home upgrades that tend to be more appealing to those in the millennial buying bracket. As you think about the best way to sell a property, keep these upgrades in mind:

  • Smart home technology.
  • Gathering spaces.
  • USB chargers.
  • A home office.
  • Energy-saving appliances.
  • Neutral colors.
  • Garage tech.

Smart Home Technology

Millennials have a reputation for being tech savvy, so it makes sense that they would be interested in whole-house connectivity, including home automation options that allow them to control things like the thermostat, sound system, garage door or the security system alarm from an app on their phone.

Technologies that help reduce the cost of utilities, such as a smart home thermostat, are especially marketable.

Gathering Spaces

When selling your house, one of the most important steps is staging. And if you think you’ll have some first-time buyers show up for a tour or an open house, you might stage your home to emphasize areas where the homeowners can gather with their friends.

For example, if you set up a room in such a way that it looks just perfect for kicking back, watching the big game or even firing up a video game console, that might really appeal to young couples eager to entertain.

USB Chargers

Smartphones are ubiquitous, and millennials are going to have their eyes open for easily available charging stations. If you convert even one or two outlets to include USB chargers, that can go over very well with millennial house hunters. Ultimately, this small investment can really help you sell your home.

A Home Office

Historically, real estate agents have actually advised against having home office spaces, simply because they have generally not been very attractive to buyers. In recent years, that’s started to change, especially among younger professionals. Remote work opportunities are on the rise, and millennial buyers may be eager to find a space that’s created for them to set up shop.

If your house has more than a couple of bedrooms, you may consider configuring one to look more like an office setting, simply demonstrating to buyers how flexible the space can be.

Energy-Saving Appliances

Millennial buyers tend to be on the lookout for ways to reduce the expenses incurred by homeownership. One natural option is energy-efficient appliances.

Replacing your washing machine, dryer or dishwasher with something Energy Star-certified can be a good way to signal to potential buyers that there are savings embedded in your property.

Neutral Colors

This is actually just good advice no matter which homebuying demographic you’re appealing to. Most house hunters prefer soft, neutral colors to anything bright or garish, and millennials are no exception. So try to look for those soft grays or warm tans when repainting.

Garage Tech

Again, millennial buyers are known for their embrace of all the latest technology, and you may have some who want to bring the most up-to-date gadgets out to the garage. This may even include charging a smart car.

Newer garage door openers are equipped with remote technology, allowing you to open and close the door from an app. This can be a smart gesture toward the lifestyle of your millennial buyers.

These are just a few of the home upgrades we’d recommend when your millennial-aged buyers are likely to be considering your home. There are definitely more home upgrades to consider when attracting any buyer. But this list is a great place to start.

Originally published here.

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The Guide to Contemporary Design Trends for Your Home

The Guide to Contemporary Design Trends for Your Home

Wanting a home that looks stylish and photo-worthy is a common goal. But how can you keep up with the trendsetting interior spaces of the moment? Contemporary design trends often find inspiration from existing styles, and combine them to make the look we see on TV, Pinterest and in interior design magazines.

In order to grasp the right interior design techniques, you’ll first need to understand what contemporary design is. Then, you’ll be able to take the trends and make them work in your home.

Here are eight ways you can incorporate contemporary design trends:

  • Clean lines.
  • Combined styles.
  • Simple colors.
  • Exposed imperfections.
  • Comfortable furniture.
  • Hard floors.
  • Additional decor.
  • Function and form in the right places.

Understanding Contemporary Design

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how you can make contemporary design work in your home, it’s important to note the difference between contemporary design and other styles, which may sound similar and intersect in certain trends or details, but are in fact distinct.

Contemporary design. Contemporary design reflects the design trends of the moment and is often a combination of other existing design styles to mirror the common preferences of the current time. Contemporary design is often misrepresented as modern, and while it can – and often does – incorporate the modern design style, there are more details at play. Because it follows popular styles of the moment, contemporary design looks current and doesn’t immediately evoke thoughts of a specific time period or style exclusively. Contemporary design of today is characterized by an overall clean look, with simple decoration and subtle variations in color and texture throughout a space.

Modern design. Modern design is defined by a specific time period – namely, the mid-20th century – and is embodied by its focus on function, minimalism, clean lines, geometric patterns and the emergence of plastic as a material for furniture and decor. Contemporary design does pull from midcentury modern design aesthetics, but contemporary design goes beyond to include other design styles as well.

Traditional design. Traditional design, on the other hand, embraces more ornate decor, incorporates rich colors and has a distinct European influence. Traditional design focuses closely on details, with claw foot furniture, overstuffed couches and chairs and architectural elements like crown molding, columns and built-in cabinets and shelves.

Read on for the lowdown on contemporary design trends and ideas you can add to your home.

Clean Lines

While not quite as simplistic as midcentury modern style, contemporary trends are aimed at avoiding an overcomplicated look. You want the eye to naturally flow from one object in the room to the other, rather than getting overwhelmed looking at a space.

Combining Styles

If you shop exclusively at one store to decorate your home, it’ll likely capture a specific style. Ikea, for instance, will give your home a clear Swedish modern feel, while West Elm furniture tends to focus on midcentury modern. Keep your space contemporary by including multiple design aesthetics, rather than sticking to one.

Purposely mix different styles and periods in one room, says Adam Meshberg, founder and principal of architecture and interior design firm Meshberg Group, based in New York City. “Mix it up and maybe put some graffiti art in a painting mixed in with a washed Persian rug,” he says. “It gives it a unique style.”

Simple Colors

Neutrals are the go-to color scheme for contemporary design, with bright colors used as accents. Often walls and main pieces of furniture in a room are kept neutral, allowing for pillows, blankets, wall art or tabletop decor to offer one or two accent colors in the room.

But the choice of grays or beige doesn’t have to be boring. Rising in popularity for paint colors are the shades that have undertones of warmer red or pink, or even opting for a more metallic gray, says Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun County, Virginia, part of the Neighborly network of home service companies. “Those warm grays and silvery grays are still the most popular thing we do,” she says.

In some cases, you can even make your walls the accent color – either with a single wall or even the entire room – by focusing neutrals in the furniture and other decor. “A lot of people like the teals, (and) the blue-green that looks like water,” Nokes says.

Exposed Imperfections

An exposed brick wall or uncovered air ducts and pipes coming from the ceiling often work well in contemporary design. Ductwork and piping can be left in their natural state, or they can be painted to help them blend in (or even stand out more) with the rest of a room. The exposed look pulls from industrial design, which is becoming a larger part of contemporary design trends in recent years.

“People love the story of the old bones of houses or buildings,” Meshberg says. Even if your home is relatively new, he says you can expose a concrete wall or even bring in reclaimed wood that wasn’t there before to offer up a look that makes the space feel unique.

In June, the online furniture company Joybird examined the top-searched interior design styles by state through Google Trends. The findings, released in a report, note that industrial style was most popular, with 12 states seeing it as the most commonly searched design aesthetic, including three states in the Midwest, much of the Mountain West and additional outliers like Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Comfortable Furniture

Contemporary furniture follows the same rules of simplicity, without too much decoration or complication. But the pieces should also focus on comfort and function – a couch and chairs that make it easy for family and friends to sit for hours adheres to contemporary goals.

The most popular furniture choices stick to neutrals for the main chairs, couches and coffee or side tables. Select pieces that show the legs of the couch or chair, rather than having a skirt around it – a style that is now considered dated.

Hard Floors

Because the focus of a contemporary design is on clean lines and a clean space overall, you’re more likely to see hardwood, tile or vinyl floors in a contemporary home. Carpeting doesn’t line up well with contemporary styles, and while rugs are used, they’re often used sparingly and as accent patterns or colors.

In an open floor plan, continuous flooring throughout the space is common to make the area look big and cohesive, but to help break it up and establish more intimate spaces, consider introducing additional materials.

In designing the lobby space of a Brooklyn apartment building, Meshberg inlaid tile in the area of the business center, breaking up the concrete flooring of the entire lobby area. “It juxtaposes a handcrafted look with an industrial look,” Meshberg says.

Additional Decor

Contemporary trends in previous years have centered around a more minimalist look to focus on clean lines, but more tabletop or shelf decor has become the emerging trend. You can also personalize the space with photos, vases, candles and plants that speak to your individual style in a room.

Family heirlooms on display or a collection of vintage items that appeal to your tastes – cameras, books or even dishes – show personality, but also follows popular love of vintage items. In the Joybird report, the second-most popular interior design style by state was vintage, which is the No. 1 style among searches in Connecticut, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont.

Vases, planters and tabletop decor should follow contemporary rules for clean lines – go for the simpler design rather than one that introduces an overly complicated pattern or ornate silhouette.

Function and Form in the Right Places

While you may tend to lean toward the most simplistic details of contemporary design to avoid making a decorating faux pas, there are certainly parts of your home where you can be a bit more adventurous with color, pattern and texture.

If you have more than one living space, for example, embrace more traditional European details in a formal living room. “If it’s formal, you can do more drama because it’s not used as much,” Nokes says.

Additionally powder rooms or half bathrooms are a perfect place to showcase a patterned wallpaper – it may be overwhelming in a larger space, but walls covered in palm leaf or flamingo designs can be a fun surprise for guests who pop in to wash their hands.

Originally published here.

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4 Reasons to Sell this Fall


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Some Highlights:

  • Buyers are active in the market and often competing with one another for available listings.
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply found in a normal housing market.
  • Homes are still selling relatively quickly, averaging 31 days on the market.

Originally published here.

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Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020

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Freddie MacFannie Maeand the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | Keeping Current MattersAs we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you’re a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market. Give me a call today.

Originally published here.

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A Home Maintenance Checklist for Every Season

Seasonal Home Checklist

Owning a home comes with year-round responsibilities, but you don’t have to dread these tasks. “Home maintenance is easier than people think,” says Jim Magliaro, risk consulting technical lead at the insurance company Chubb. The key is to complete seasonal preventive measures which are more manageable and less expensive than the costly repairs that might be needed if household systems are neglected. Here’s a primer on the essential tasks to be completed each season of the year.

Summer

Summer is a perfect time to make sure your home systems are in working order. The warm weather also makes this season an ideal time to take care of outdoor tasks that can deter pests and minimize the chances of property damage later in the year.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in summer:

  • Test GFCI outlets.
  • Secure outdoor furniture.
  • Add anchor bolts to doors.
  • Cut back vegetation.
  • Trim branches and remove dying trees.

Test GFCI outlets. Kitchens, bathrooms and other areas that may be exposed to moisture should be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, outlets. These outlets are designed to avoid electrical shocks and minimize the possibility of fires by shutting off the flow of electricity when a ground fault occurs. The easiest way to test that the outlets are working properly is to plug in a radio, turn it on and push the test button on the outlet. If the radio shuts off, the outlet is working as it should; if not, it should be replaced.

Secure outdoor furniture. Summertime storms can upend patio furniture and large equipment, such as trampolines and swing sets. Secure items to the ground or deck with anchors, bolts or cords, and properly store items when not in use. It may also be helpful to create a wind barrier around furniture by planting shrubbery or installing a decorative wall.

Add anchor bolts to doors. Joe Meisinger, chief underwriting officer for personal insurance at Travelers, says 27% of the home claims his company receives in the summer are related to wind damage. High winds can cause garage and house doors to fail, but anchor bolts help secure doors to the structure of a home. They may be especially useful in areas prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. If you are replacing a front door, Meisinger suggests getting one that opens out. That way, high winds will seal a door shut tightly, rather than trying to push it open.

Cut back vegetation. Keep pests at bay by trimming or removing vegetation that may be close to the house, advises Mike Malone, senior vice president of marketing and inside sales for pest control company Arrow Exterminators. Left unchecked, this greenery could attract and conceal insects, rodents and other wildlife.

Trim branches and remove dying trees. Walk around your property and look for overhanging limbs, cracked branches or dying trees. Trimming branches and removing unhealthy trees in the summer can help prevent a tree limb from falling on your home or vehicle during a future storm. Meisinger recommends maintaining a 10-foot clearance between the house and tree limbs.

Fall

Fall can be a busy season for household chores. “It’s always a good time to prep the house for the winter,” Meisinger says. That means getting heating systems in order and preparing for the cooler weather ahead.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in fall:

  • Clean out gutters.
  • Add insulation.
  • Protect pipes.
  • Clean the chimney.
  • Inspect your HVAC system.

Clean out gutters. Falling leaves and debris can fill gutters and clog downspouts. In snowy climates, ice dams are the main hazard associated with clogged gutters going into the winter months. However, keeping gutters free of dirt and debris should help you avoid the problem.

Add insulation. Insulation is important not only for comfort, but also for protecting the integrity of your home. It can prevent ice dams and pipes from freezing and may protect against fires. However, be careful not to add too much insulation. People naturally create moisture in a house through cooking, cleaning and bathing. Too much insulation, combined with a lack of ventilation, means that moisture has no place to go and can lead to a wet attic and mold growth.

Protect pipes. Water pipes in crawl spaces, attics or basements may be prone to freezing in the winter. Adding insulation to a house is one way to prevent that from happening. Other ways to prevent freezing include plugging drafty cracks or holes in walls near pipes or wrapping them with foam or another insulating substance. Outdoor pipes, such as those for sprinkler systems, should be drained and their water source turned off to prevent frozen or burst pipes in the winter.

Clean the chimney. The fall is a good time to have a professional inspect and clean your chimney if you have a fireplace. They can remove creosote that has built up inside and check for other potential hazards such as bird nests and debris.

Inspect your HVAC system. You don’t want to wait until the winter to have your furnace checked. “Staying on top of HVAC maintenance during the milder seasons will ensure your system is running at its best when the frigid winter or sweltering summer arrives,” says Matt Orcutt, portfolio leader for ducted and split systems at Trane Residential, a premium HVAC brand that’s part of the Ingersoll Rand family. “A tech will clean the system, look for leaks and monitor for potential issues that could impact its efficiency.” Fall is also a good time to have boilers, radiators, heat pumps and similar systems inspected.

Winter

Ushering in ice and snow, winter can be a harsh time of the year in many parts of the country. Not only do homeowners need to protect your home against external damage from storms, but they need to address potentially devastating internal hazards. One-third of all home claim payouts made by Travelers in the winter are fire-related, according to Meisinger, making it the most expensive loss to incur during the season. However, you need to worry about pest control and internal air quality during the cold winter months as well.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in winter:

  • Change the furnace filter.
  • Seal cracks and holes.
  • Update alarm and alert systems.
  • Clean out your dryer vent.
  • Review your insurance coverage.

Change the furnace filter. This isn’t an annual task, but one that should occur every couple months during the heating season. “It’s crucial to replace air filters every 30 to 90 days, monitor for abnormal sounds or smells, keep the outdoor unit free of dirt and debris and inspect the base pan for blocked drains,” Orcutt says. Otherwise, you could be faced with less-efficient heating, higher utility bills and potential health hazards due to air pollution.

Seal cracks and holes. “Wildlife look for a warm environment to seek food and shelter from the frigid temperatures,” Malone says. To ensure they aren’t overwintering with you, seal exterior cracks or holes with caulking, foam or another filler. Make sure screens are firmly affixed over vents and other larger openings. Pay particular attention to the roofline, chimney and areas where pipes enter the house.

Update alarm and alert systems. Though they won’t prevent a fire, alarm systems can minimize damage and save lives in the event of one. Homes should have a smoke alarm outside every bedroom and on every level of the house. Photoelectric alarms may be best at detecting smoldering fires that can fill a home with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. “Maybe even get a smart smoke detector,” Meisinger says. These devices will send phone alerts in the event a fire or carbon monoxide is detected.

Clean out your dryer vent. While you should be cleaning a dryer’s lint trap after every use, vents need a deep cleaning at least one a year. Over time, lint can accumulate and even ignite. Check the vent hose and remove any accumulated buildup. Also, make sure the external vent is properly screened to prevent pests from accessing your home through it.

Review your insurance coverage. Not all home maintenance chores involve manual labor. As the calendar turns to a new year, it’s a good time to review your homeowner insurance policy. If you’ve made improvements in the past year, make sure those will be adequately covered and consider shopping around for a better deal if you haven’t compared insurance costs recently.

Spring

Spring can be an unpredictable time that brings snow, flooding and high winds, and Meisinger notes 30% of all home claims made to Travelers from 2009-2016 occurred in the spring. Household chores during these months focus on preparing for shifting weather patterns as well as cleaning up any damage from the winter months.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in spring:

  • Clean out gutters (again).
  • Do an exterior inspection of your property.
  • Renovate with impact-resistant materials.
  • Check your sump pump.
  • Turn off water when on vacation.

Clean out gutters (again). Between snow melt and spring showers, there is the potential for a lot of water to be running through your downspouts. “Make sure drainage systems are clear and working properly,” Magliaro advises.

Do an exterior inspection of your property. Those living in northern climates may not have spent a significant amount of time outside during the winter months. Even those in sunnier climates may not regularly inspect their home’s exterior. The spring is a good time to look for missing shingles, loose siding and hanging branches.

Renovate with impact-resistant materials. Hail causes some of the most expensive damage in the spring, according to Meisinger. If you need to replace roofing or siding, use an impact-resistant material to avoid future damage. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has developed a national standard that can be used as a checklist to guard against hurricane and wind damage.

Check your sump pump. Take action to ensure that water from outside doesn’t cause damage inside. “This is a great time to go down to your basement and check your sump pump,” Meisinger says. You can test that your sump pump is adding enough water to raise the pump’s float and see if it is pumped out properly. For a more thorough evaluation, consult with a plumbing professional.

Turn off water when on vacation. Magliaro notes 45% of property claims made to Chubb are related to internal water damage. To avoid expensive damage to your home, consider turning off your water supply when leaving for an extended period of time. Another way to avoid water damage is to check pipes to sinks, toilets and appliances for leaks or loose connections.

Originally Published here.

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12 Home Features That Can Make It Easier to Sell a House

SC Homes Blog

What makes a home really special? Whether it is a grand mansion or a two-bedroom apartment, what are the attributes that the trained eye of a real estate expert are zeroing in on when she views a home?

Whether on the hunt as a homebuyer or selling a home, certain details in a property stand out as memorable features, while others will only be noticed if they’re missing. Here are 12 important qualities that will always make it easier to sell a house:

  • Natural light.
  • Fireplace.
  • High ceilings.
  • Master bedroom on the ground floor.
  • Attached garage.
  • Waterfront.
  • Central air.
  • Large windows.
  • Soaking tub.
  • Walk-in shower.
  • Clothes washer and dryer.
  • Big closets.

Natural Light

Natural light is almost always preferred, especially in the living room. Homebuyers looking for this feature may ask to turn the lights off and see how much light there really is.

Fireplace

A fireplace always makes a room elegant. Do not get turned off by an ugly mantle or hearth, as this can easily be changed – the mere existence of a fireplace is a huge plus. Many homeowners prefer to convert to gas from a wood-burning fireplace to cut down on work and mess, but either is a great asset for any room. The more fireplaces in a home, the better.

High Ceilings

Ceilings 9 feet or higher are optimal. The higher the better. Many new developments have a standard height of 10 feet and this has been a huge factor in their success. High ceilings are transformative.

Master Bedroom On the Ground Floor

Savvy homebuyers will be thinking about the future when they shop for a new home. If you plan on this home being where you age and retire, make sure you do not have to climb stairs to get to your bedroom.

Attached Garage

Garages are often considered a must-have in colder climates. A garage isn’t just a home for cars, but serves as extra storage and a place to organize skis, boots, tools and all those other items you don’t want to bring inside the house.

Waterfront

Views of the water are highly desired whether you’re located in the city or in a small town, and automatically increase the value of your home. This is the crown jewel.

Central Air

For many homebuyers, central air for heating and air conditioning is a must-have. This is a huge time and cost savings when central air is already installed.

Large Windows

Corner windows and casement windows can create a real “wow” factor in any room. Great windows, along with high ceilings, are real game changers. Another option, seen more frequently in the luxury new development world in New York City and Florida, is floor-to-ceiling windows. This modern, fishbowl-type aesthetic has a more limited audience, but is unrivaled with a great view.

Soaking Tub

Glamorous tubs make the list because of the way they’re able to become the focal point of a bathroom. They look luxurious and special, particularly in new construction.

Walk-in Shower

Every home should have at least one walk-in shower. For people looking to age in place, a curbless shower is ideal to reduce the chances of tripping as their flexibility decreases.

Clothes Washer and Dryer

In major cities like New York, a washer-dryer is not always a given. It should be.

Big Closets

A necessity for everyone. Especially in metro areas where home prices are high, ample storage can be a major selling point.

Real estate agents are trained to look for these types of key home features as they are valuable attributes that many buyers might initially miss or undervalue in searching for a new home. Everyone has their personal hit list of features that are important to them, such as the number of bedrooms, architectural style and neighborhood. These personal requirements, along with the standout features to look for, may uncover a diamond in the rough and create the perfect dream home.

Originally published here.

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What You Need to Know About Buying a Second Home

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Second homes and properties purchased for investment purposes are big business in the U.S. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Investment & Vacation Home Buyers Survey, about 12% of all home sales in 2017 were acquired for vacation use and 19% for investment purposes. With roughly 6 million properties changing hands each year, 1.8 million are for non-primary use.

The reasons for acquiring a second property are varied – from warm-weather getaways to a consistent source of cold, hard cash – and with each objective, there are specific guidelines, mortgage requirements and tax implications. Let’s take a closer look at the deciding factors of whether a second home is in your future.

Vacation Homes

When starting your search for a vacation home, location will likely be your primary focus. Whether you envision fun and sun on the beach or a peaceful mountain hideaway, keep in mind that mortgage lenders often have guidelines for the minimum distance between your primary and vacation properties (usually in the 50- to 100-mile range). According to the NAR report, water is a prime attraction with 57% of vacation homes situated near a beach or lake.

As far as the property itself, you’ll want to look for a home that’s easy to live in and maintain. If you’re passionate about entertaining, having gracious guest quarters, plenty of bathrooms, a big open kitchen and spacious living areas are essential. If peace and seclusion are your preference, you can save on interior square footage and invest instead in a larger, more private lot.

Second homes receive the same tax deduction benefits as primary residences, but your mortgage down payment requirement will be higher. For both mortgage and tax deduction purposes, vacation homes are subject to strict rules regarding if and for how long they can be rented to others.

Of course, you must factor in all the expenses maintaining a second household entails, including all furnishings and housewares (down to two sets of toothbrushes), utilities and insurance, maintenance and caretaker fees, any homeowners association dues and don’t forget the cost of travel to and from your new retreat.

Second “Primary” Homes

Whether for work or family obligations, or a just thirst for variety, many people prefer to live in two places at once. Rather than serving as a vacation getaway, their second home caters to everyday life, work and responsibilities. It’s a pied-à-terre, or a “foot on the ground” as the French – and New Yorkers – would say.

Second homes used in this way are typically more modest than a primary residence, especially if they’re used by just one member of the household rather than the whole family. A cozy bedroom is important, and a fully functional kitchen will save on dining expenses, but living spaces can be smaller or fewer.

Even if it’s a bit simpler than your primary house, the vibe should be welcoming and relaxing – somewhere you’ll be happy to arrive after long commutes between your two locations. Look for options within easy reach of your preferred transportation hub, and close to your office or local obligations. Condominiums and lock-and-leave communities are ideal for this use due to their security and maintenance provisions.

Many of the expenses, mortgage and tax ramifications for a vacation home apply in this category, but keep an eye out for any HOA or co-op board regulations that may frown upon pied-à-terre usage.

Retirement Home

Moving to a less expensive area, or one with ideal weather, is a common plan for many Americans approaching retirement. For those who know where they want to move, this can mean several years of accruing rental income or equity on a retirement home purchased well before retirement age.

Mortgage rates are still low, so securing a loan now could have significant benefits down the line. Getting approved for a home loan while still employed is also infinitely easier than when you’re not. Do some serious number crunching to assess your ability to pay for the home after you retire, any changes in tax considerations between your current and future address, plus the upkeep and income taxes involved in the meantime.

Areas with good weather, a reasonable cost of living, ample local shops and services, and convenient public transit are preferable. As for the type of property, whether you’ll be renting it out or using it as a vacation home will have an impact on your choice. If so, make sure that usage is in line with any mortgage or HOA requirements.

Mobility and accessibility are huge concerns for older homeowners, so be sure to choose a residence in keeping with universal design standards, meaning it can be used and enjoyed with people of all ages and abilities. That includes a single-level layout or elevator access throughout, wide hallways, bathrooms with grips and wet room showers, accessible appliances and closets and so on.

Housing for Children or Students

As children go off to college or leave home to start their new lives, you may be inclined to assist with their housing costs, whether your motivations are as a caring parent or a shrewd investor. Helping your kids buy a home as young adults can impart financial lessons that will last a lifetime, and compared to throwing money at dorm fees or expensive rentals, it’s a move that can actually save money over the long term or even cover tuitions costs in just a four-year stint.

Students will gain the stability of not having to move each year or store belongings over the summer. On the downside, they’ll potentially lose the flexibility of changing schools or seeking employment in a new city, and of course, real estate investing isn’t always a guaranteed success.

When seeking a home for students or young adults living on their own for the first time, you’ll want to emphasize safety, proximity to school or work, long-term local employment prospects, and the potential strength of the area rental or sales market. Keep in mind that some HOAs, co-ops and condominiums don’t permit parents buying for children or co-purchases.

No matter how you go about acquiring a home for your children, make sure the ownership arrangements, maintenance and financial responsibilities of all parties are clearly spelled out, both in the long and short term. Be sure to speak to a qualified attorney or financial advisor to determine how best to structure the purchase, keeping in mind the ramifications of cosigning a mortgage as well as applicable gift or estate tax regulations.

Investment Property

If you’re searching for a property purely for investment purposes, look at it as just that: not as a home, but as a financial venture. For a rental, look for a property in move-in-ready condition in a strong rental market with a good likelihood of appreciation down the line. If you’re planning to flip, a fixer-upper with a bargain-basement price is your target. Examine the property tax rates, the quality of the local schools and the health of the area job market, then check out how long sales or rentals are sitting on the market.

With either a rental or flip, keep a close eye on financials; investment property loans have more stringent requirements and higher down payments than primary or even secondary residential mortgages. You’re responsible for short-term capital gains for your flip profits and income taxes for your rental income, plus you’ll need to cover utilities until your property sells or rents and have insurance in place for the duration of your ownership.

In general, buyers of second homes report that their non-primary properties are smaller and less expensive than their primary homes. Second homes are also more likely to be a townhouse, condominium or other multifamily arrangements. No matter the size or location of a second home or investment property, the advice of a skilled real estate professional is still important, especially because you will not know the specific local market conditions and idiosyncrasies as well as you do where you live full-time.

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Originally published here.
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3 Powerful Reasons To Buy A Home Now

Reasons to Buy | SC Homes Blog

Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability

Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Since home prices have appreciated throughout the past year, they assume homes are less affordable. However, affordability is determined by three components:

  • Price
  • Wages
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Prices are up, but so are wages – and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically (see #2 below). As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are MORE affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago.

“All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in affordability of 6.9%, followed by the West with a gain of 6.0%. The Midwest had an increase of 5.8%, followed by the Northeast with the smallest gain of 1.8%.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%.3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | Keeping Current MattersAdditionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, Fannie Mae and others have increased their forecasts for housing appreciation for the rest of the year. If home price gains are about to re-accelerate, buying now rather than later makes financial sense.

3. Increase Family Wealth

Homeownership has always been recognized as a sensational way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals:

“U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you.

Bottom Line

With affordability increasing, mortgage rates decreasing, and home values about to re-accelerate, it may be time to determine if buying now makes sense for your family. Give me a call today.

Originally published here.

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